Binge-watchers are starting to get higher and higher bills from their internet service providers, and Netflix seems to be a big contributing factor. In the age of streaming, people are watching more and more of their TV and movies online. Accordingly, ISPs are finding ways to charge more for the service.
Most people with smartphones are familiar data limits — a metric imposed to charge more from users who access, upload and download more information from the internet than others. Now, more and more companies are putting similar data caps in place for home Internet services, limiting activity in the same way even in a customer's own house.
These measures have actually been coming for a long time, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times. Warner Cable tried to implement a "data plan" ten years ago, but dropped it over public outcry. Charter Communications Inc. reportedly tried it in 2016 as well, then promised not to do so for at least seven years.
Meanwhile, other companies have gotten the ball rolling. the L.A. Times report tells the story of a TV fan named James Wright, who gets his home internet service from Comcast Corp. in Memphis, Tennessee. Wright purchased a 4K TV to do his binge-watching in style, but soon found that his Netflix habit sent his Comcast bill through the roof.
“The first month I blew through the cap like it was nothing,” the 50-year-old said. “It’s not as hard to go through as you’d think.”
Wright is what ISPs are now calling a "power user" — someone who uses 1 terabyte of data or more per month. With the rise in streaming coupled with the affordability of high definition displays, power users are growing across the country. They reportedly make up 4% of internet subscribers at the moment, up from 2% just a year ago.
“The percentage of subscribers exceeding this level will continue to grow rapidly,” said Mark Trudeau, founder of data usage tracking service OpenVault.
Wright said that he is now paying $120 per month between his internet, TV and landline phone. He finds that he still has to adjust his viewing habits, or else get hit with a $50 charge for additional data. He has turned to services like Redbox, renting DVDs rather than streaming, and even canceled his Hulu subscription.
“I’ve argued that their bandwidth option is obsolete,” he said.